Driving to graveside with my heart crushed, I didn’t feel the after effects of the tears, but sniffled and wiped my nose. Silent and disbelieving, through the window, I watched the long line of cars proceed ahead. The lead car (the hearse) a few car lengths away. In my mind, I vividly recall every detail. The little blue casket dwarfed inside the giant Baptist Church. Flowers with blue bows, little stuffed lambs, and plastic rattles. A pastor trying to comfort a family stunned by the loss of an infant only a week old. It just couldn’t be, but it was.
He was an angel, here for a short time, but why?….. why?….. It seemed so cruel to watch my sister hold him, rock him, and then cry by his casket. Not just cry, but – rip-your-heart-out and die – despair. A grief that was palpable. The ache I felt is nothing compared to what she feels. I can’t imagine, nor would I want to. Is he in a better place? Well, sure. But why? Why him? Why us? Why do babies have to die? Tears well up and drop because…. I don’t know the answer to that, and I never will. All I can do is be there for her, and be as brave as she is.
We reach the graveyard. Tires crunch on gravel. The day is overcast – of course. There is a tent set up over the grave. It has a green covering to resemble grass – to cover the hole. The chairs face the “grass” covered in velvet cloth. It is the most depressing place I have ever seen. My sister is still with the family car waiting for the casket and has not yet arrived. It is only my brothers and I, with a few friends strolling up. I see Grandma Owens being led to a chair under the tent awning on the first row. It’s hard to look at anyone. I can’t bear to see the bloodshot eyes, and the red noses. The pain, all the more real, when you look in the face of your family. All of us hurting.
Grandma is holding up very well. She sees the flowers set delicately around the graveside. Beautiful sprays of baby’s breath with delicate blooms unfolding love for a little boy we knew for such a short time. I watch as she moves toward the flower spray near the back, to touch, and to feel, and check the tag to see if it’s hers. One second she is there, shuffling toward the buds, the next she is gone. Gone! It all happened so fast, and it took a collective gasp of horror around me to realize……Grandma fell into the baby’s grave! Oh my GOD!
My brother reacted immediately. He jumped up and ran to her. Fearing the worst, a broke hip or arm. He struggled and yanked her tangled legs from the fake green carpet that was now dipped into the grave hole. He tugs her up, shaking his head in disbelief. As shocked and horrified as she is, we quickly realize Grandma is fine. She is not hurt, only embarrassed.
My brother exclaims loudly as he leads her back to her chair, “Grandma! What are you doing? Stay out of that grave! It’s not your time yet.”
Chuckles blow from hands clasped over mouths. Heads, and shoulders shake, because really? Really! That just happened. Grandma took a dive into the grave.
We laughed that day seventeen years ago, a sad day, but we laughed. We still laugh about it. Beneath the tears and the loss, we will always have that memory of Grandma at the graveside.
**This is a true story**
This post brought to you by…
This week’s prompt was to write a short piece in which a character told a joke and a character cried. The piece has to be maximum 600 words and must be able to be read aloud in no more than 3 minutes.
****I have a BUNCH of pictures from today. We had about six inches of snow, plus we had the little girls, and boy did we play. I will post pics this weekend. Happy Friday!****